Interview with John Green: Underground Skateboarding and Filming the Homies
John Green is a skateboarder and filmmaker who resides in Brisbane, QLD. He was born in Ormoc City, in The Philippines and moved to Australia when he was one with his Mother and older Brother. Aged 22, he has been skating for almost 10 years and filming skateboarding videos for 5 years. His work includes for numerous companies and organisations such as Picture Wheels, Hoon Skateboards, Holiday Skateboards, Herstwood Skateboards and Skatebiz (as well as international brands). This includes Co-Filming/Producing a short skate film called “The Grass is Greener” in 2012. He also filmed and edited ‘The Herstwood Video” in 2013 and is currently working on personal projects. Below is an interview he did with AAFFN’s Indigo Willing.
What have you been working on recently?
One thing is “River City Flow” (2014), a project I worked on for a few months, predominately with Gareth Roberston and Andrew ‘Beacho’ Beauchamp. The idea was for the video to be all city footage and all at night. As word got out about the project, more people wanted to be a part of it, so there’s more involved as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VUPhd9uBic
A more current project for me is “The Hype Squad Video” which is a ‘homie video’ of the “Hype Squad”. Basically our skate crew and our friends. It’s due to be released in October/November 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9wQUcYofAw – Promo 3
How and around when did your interest in skateboarding become a major part of who you are?
Growing up I was really into basketball. I started playing at a local club when I was 12. A year later I started skateboarding and did both up until Year 12 (final year of high school). After finishing school and having way more time on my hands I started to skate more and enjoyed playing basketball less. Eventually stopped playing and skateboarding just naturally took over. That’s when the love really started.
My older brother skates. He was the one who got me into it. I remember we had a Tasmanian Devil board, that was the graphic anyway. It was like an old school pool shape, it was rad. We use to play around on that when we were real young down the driveway. Then we both got some crappy K-Mart boards, which sucked. When my brother got into high school he got into it more with his friends and started going to the skatepark on weekends. Eventually I started to tag along after getting some secondhand boards and wheels etc. He still skates now, he’s cool.
Not entirely haha I think they are slowly coming to terms and understanding why as I get older.
When I show my parents some videos I’ve done the first thing they tell me is that what we are doing/done is illegal and we shouldn’t be doing it, it’s funny.
The major challenge in street skating, not only in Brisbane but everywhere, is the police or security. More so security than police I think, they usually try and be a hero and abuse their power when they kick us out of spots. Another challenge I tend to come across while ‘street skating’ especially in the inner city is the public. Some cities and towns are more accepting and don’t really bother you, but in Brisbane it seems like everyone is against it, in my opinion anyway. You get the same old line “This isn’t a skatepark”.
I started filming when I was 16. My parents had some little handy cam which I started taking to the skatepark and filming my friends. I made a few little clips with it, it was fun. I then started to notice the progression of some of my friends and found that I wasn’t as good as they were, nor will I ever be, so…
…I thought why not upgrade my camera and film these guys properly to show the world their amazing talent.
Filming wise, for the last 4 years I’ve been using a Sony VX1000 with a MK1 Extreme Fisheye lens. The VX1000 was made in 1995 designed for the war. This camera was, and should still be, the industry standard for skateboarding. All the videos I grew up watching were filmed on the same camera and one of my main influences and favourite filmer, Beagle, is a strong VX1000 advocate. Now days everything has turned High Definition or ‘HD’ with the progression of technology. For this reason I’ve had to accommodate and buy a Panasonic HVX200 which films in HD and is used by many professional skate filmers.
When editing I use an iMac at home and a Mac Book Pro whilst on trip. I mainly use the Adobe programs – Premiere Pro, After Effects, photoshop etc…
All the good times I’ve spent with all my friends. Travelling to new places and meeting new people. But the best memory I have accompanied by the best feeling ever was during the filming process for “The Grass is Greener” a video a good friend of mine Michael Pearse and I made in 2012. I went out skating with my friend Liam. He had this trick he really wanted to do and the deadline for the video was fast approaching. He ending up trying it with no avail for 3/4 hours non stop and by then the sun, my batteries and both our energy levels were gone so we decided to call it quits. I think we went back a couple days later to try again.
[After] Another 3/4 hour session and still no make I looked at Liam and asked if he wants to keep going or try another day to the reply of ‘last shot’ which never means last shot. Next thing I know he’s rolling down the footpath triumphant. It was amazing.
I try to stay on point with my equipment, making sure everything is working, batteries charged and I have enough tapes to get through the day but there have been times where I’ve slipped up and mid session I’ve run out of batteries or tape and let everyone down.
Usually the biggest challenge is organising everyone! Trying to get them out of bed, ready and out the door every week is hard but all fun in the end.
First and foremost are my friends. They’re the guys putting everything on the line and going through the mental/physical battle of skateboarding. I want the best for them and I try to do all I can to help them succeed and progress.
Not too often, it’s a very low paying ‘JOB’. There are companies out there that help you out and I really appreciate those guys and give them 100% but…
…if you’re not in it for the love or didn’t start filming for that reason you won’t get very far. Same goes for skateboarding as a career as well.
Like anything you start from the bottom and work your way up. Just keep filming your friends or down at the local park and keep striving to out do your last edit. Over time you progress and start to know whats good and whats not. Be cool and down to earth with people you work with, they will like you more which might open up more opportunities. Unfortunately in skateboarding it is a lot about who you know, keep that in mind.
I think musicians are the most alike to skateboarders. Skating and music go hand in hand. I’ve been asked to film music videos and live sets for some of my friends’ bands. Apart from them I would like the reach the general public and make them see skateboarding in a different perspective and take it as an art form with positive outcomes rather than something negative.
I use to play guitar and other instruments growing up, still kind of mess around nowadays but never really have the time to sit down and learn something properly. I do really like taking photos, mainly on film. The whole process of taking a photo and developing it yourself really intrigues me. I always carry around a Canon AE-1 35mm camera, its really fun to use. I’m currently working on putting together a little coffee table book of my photos.
Growing up in Australia definitely changed the food I eat regularly to what I would be eating if I grew up in Asia. I mean I do eat a lot of rice but I can’t go past a Cheese and Bacon meat pie and a beer!
Can’t argue with that statement to close an interview with a quintessential Asian Australian and freshly talented filmmaker not afraid of taking risks and getting out there with a camera. Pies and beer. That’s certainly part of living the dream for all of us.
Look out for John’s future work in “The Hype Squad Video” and more. Watch River City Flow below: